May 242013
Angela Williams

Angela Williams

Student nurses are best placed to be able to influence the delivery of a quality based health service and promote a ‘can do’ culture. I have confidence in saying this, as when the students start their career as a student nurse they have a genuine curiosity to find out why care is delivered in the way that it is.

‘Put the patients first’ said Robert Francis QC at the Quality Forum, in London. Students are taught to do this early on in the curriculum from a theoretical and clinical perspective – to support this observation 1000 Lives Plus promotes a person centred care approach which is central to all module sessions taught in Glyndŵr University.

At the Quality Forum there were nine overarching programme streams. ‘Patient engagement and education’ was of particular interest to me with my background in nurse education. I was motivated by the ‘Quality improvement in education’ session. Four speakers presented their different training/educational initiatives with Jessica Perlo from the IHI Open School starting the proceedings with her talk about the importance of integrating inter-professional teams into quality improvement education.

I was interested in her opinion as here in Wales both Dr Aled Jones at Cardiff University and myself from Glyndŵr University, supported students through the IHI Improvement Practicum pilot project in 2012. This was a brilliant experience and demonstrates how Welsh students have already been involved in the development of the integration of Quality Improvement to undergraduate education.

The most inspiring speaker during this session stream was Emma Donaldson who presented work based on ‘Trainees improving care: Don’t just tick the box’. Emma’s findings mirror similar issues I have experienced as an educator who supports student nurses trying to develop improvement ideas. Some of the main issues identified were about clinical placement areas seeing the ‘trainees’/ ‘students’ as ‘outsiders’, whereas students are frequently  ‘fresh eyes’ on each placement.

Students frequently move around placement areas. Sometimes they experience similar feelings to patients and their families, especially as they feel that just when they have familiarised themselves with a placement they have to move on. This may also be one of the reasons they are seen as ‘outsiders’ – as they are transient visitors to the clinical placement areas.

However, an advantage for the students is that the ‘fresh eyes’ approach can often result in the students having a ‘can do’ approach too. They can consider how they can help, rather than how they can’t help (‘can’t do’ culture). In order to support this philosophy we need to make Quality Improvement easier for everyone i.e. make it the ‘norm’ and stop creating more work when we what we need to do is make time to make it simpler for everyone.

Going back to the earlier comment made by Robert Francis – what we need to do is see the patient as a person and believe in ‘what I can do to help, rather than what I can’t do to help’. The smallest and simplest of actions can sometimes make the biggest impact.

Angela Williams is senior lecturer in adult nursing at Glyndŵr University and a member of the 1000 Lives Plus faculty. Twitter: @AnnWilliams6


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